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Liberian refugees return home in first airlift from Burkina Faso

News Stories, 27 June 2007

© UNHCR/M.Kpaka
Some of the Liberian refugees who flew home by air from Burkina Faso.

MONROVIA, Liberia, June 27 (UNHCR) An eclectic group of 53 refugees, including students, tailors, professional soccer players, musicians, artists and restaurant owners, returned home this week on the first UNHCR-organised voluntary repatriation of Liberians by air from Burkina Faso.

The Liberians boarded an aircraft of the UN Mission in Liberia on Tuesday in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou and flew to Monrovia. The flight came days before the UN refugee agency ends its repatriation programme on Saturday. UNHCR has helped more than 100,000 people return home since October 2004.

The returnees, many of whom had been in exile since the start of the Liberian civil war in late 1989, were accompanied by UNHCR staff members and Liberian refugee officials. They will each receive a return package of food for four months and non-food items such as kitchen sets, buckets, mats and plastic sheeting.

The returnees will also get a transportation allowance to help them get home. They will be offered vocational training if needed, but many of the returnees have skills that they have used in exile and which could be helpful in rebuilding a country devastated by years of war and destruction.

Soccer player Fred Tally, like most of the other passengers on Tuesday's flight, made his way to Burkina Faso via a third country. He fled in 1997 to Côte d'Ivoire, where played for Guiglo before moving on to play football in a number of other countries. He said his ambition was to play for the Liberian national team.

After fleeing Liberia in 1993, musician Domini Baysah toured Africa with a group called "Knight of Zion" before studying construction in Nigeria. He was in Burkina Faso to find his younger brother and take him home to Liberia.

Hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees fled their country during the civil war, which ended in 2003. To date, a total 103,544 persons have returned home with UNHCR help and many more have made their own way back. UNHCR and its humanitarian partners are helping to provide the infrastructure, services and opportunities necessary for successful reintegration.

By Sarah F. Brownell in Monrovia, Liberia




UNHCR country pages


UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Return to Swat Valley

Thousands of displaced Pakistanis board buses and trucks to return home, but many remain in camps for fear of being displaced again.

Thousands of families displaced by violence in north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley and surrounding areas are returning home under a government-sponsored repatriation programme. Most cited positive reports about the security situation in their home areas as well as the unbearable heat in the camps as key factors behind their decision to return. At the same time, many people are not yet ready to go back home. They worry about their safety and the lack of access to basic services and food back in Swat. Others, whose homes were destroyed during the conflict, are worried about finding accommodation. UNHCR continues to monitor people's willingness to return home while advocating for returns to take place in safety and dignity. The UN refugee agency will provide support for the transport of vulnerable people wishing to return, and continue to distribute relief items to the displaced while assessing the emergency shelter needs of returnees. More than 2 million people have been displaced since early May in north-west Pakistan. Some 260,000 found shelter in camps, but the vast majority have been staying with host families or in rented homes or school buildings.

Return to Swat Valley

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

Liberia: Return, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

Colombia's armed conflict has forced millions of people to flee their homes, including hundreds of thousands who have sought refuge in other countries in the region.

Along the border with Colombia, Panama's Darien region is a thick and inhospitable jungle accessible only by boat. Yet many Colombians have taken refuge here after fleeing the irregular armed groups who control large parts of jungle territory on the other side of the border.

Many of the families sheltering in the Darien are from Colombia's ethnic minorities – indigenous or Afro-Colombians – who have been particularly badly hit by the conflict and forcibly displaced in large numbers. In recent years, there has also been an increase in the numbers of Colombians arriving in the capital, Panama City.

There are an estimated 12,500 Colombians of concern to UNHCR in Panama, but many prefer not to make themselves known to authorities and remain in hiding. This "hidden population" is one of the biggest challenges facing UNHCR not only in Panama but also in Ecuador and Venezuela.

Liberia: Return, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

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